The Joker’s quest to hook a barra succeeds
Let the world rejoice. Sunday December 18 shall forever be known as a world public holiday to celebrate my triumph over one of the planet’s most feared and intelligent predators – Lates calcarifer – or barramundi to most.
Okay, perhaps it’s only feared by smaller fish and fishermen like myself, desperate to hook a barra – Australia’s prize fish species – and afraid of failing. Barramundi has been a target fish for me for many months and at long last, I can cross it off my bucket list.
A couple of local lads invited me out fishing and guaranteed me success, so I took up this challenge – and yes, they produced the goods. I managed to land around six barra (as they’re affectionately known here) and a couple of other species, much to my joy.
The only thing that was a little disconcerting was the size of the tinny we were using – a 10 foot (3.5 metre) boat. Somewhat undersized in my books, considering the billabong we were fishing in was supposedly residence to many crocodiles – some reaching up to four metres. Knowing I wasn’t the apex hunter here really adds to my resume of stupidity. Despite being assured we were safe, it didn’t stop my nervous looks in every direction at every sound.
So, with the expectation of hooking my first barra out of the way, I thought that the barramundi floodgates would open and I could pick them up hand over foot whenever I wanted to, but this hasn’t been the case. Clearly, after capturing the six dumbest, the intelligence level of those left was somewhat lifted and this is where I have been brought back to the field (or puddle).
After my first day on the water I was looking forward to another day out in a boat, so when I was asked to go out again I jumped at the offer, with the intention of showing all the young guns how to fish and successfully hook a barra. But apparently they already knew how to not catch them. Although, I did catch one in the landing net as we cruised down the waterway. Not hooked, but caught, so that must surely count.
We were boating on Corroboree Billabong, which is heavily populated with fresh water snapper (crocodiles to those not in the know) and their bigger, scarier cousin, the salty.
And geez they were out in force. Once we got away from the boat ramp, out they came. At one stage, while flicking lures at fish there were six crocs swimming within 100 metres of our now seemingly undersized tinny. In total we probably saw more than 50 crocs in a trip of about five kilometres.
While out, we managed to avoid a few storm cells and dumping rain.
It’s wet season and the temperature was high 20s (Celsius) but the humidity was draining.
Bird watching out here would be a dream to those inclined, but my eyes seemed drawn to the water, looking for big bitey things. The biggest croc we saw that day was probably around three metres – almost as big as our boat – but I was assured there are a lot more, a lot larger than that, so definitely no swimming.
The road out to the boat ramp is closed during the wet as water flows over it and there have been reports of crocs on the side of the road.
Sadly, the fishing trips have been hampered by my circumstances. We’ve had pretty consistent rain here in Darwin. Getting around during the wet without a car is painful, especially when you’re heading out of town and only have access to a motorbike. You very much watch the sky, waiting for a break in the clouds and an opportunity to get out and have a look around.
Usually the rain is never far away so I have had the tendency to not go far, which has definitely limited my fishing time. Hopefully I will find a car soon and alleviate this excuse to sit and catch up on some TV.
- Corroboree Billabong is about 90 kilometres, or a four-hour return drive from Darwin.
- The boat ramp is the only access to the water, so there is no fishing off the bank. Mind you, with all the crocs you wouldn’t want to risk it anyway.
- There are no shops but there are toilet amenities. So if you are going, take a picnic and drinks so you don’t get hungry while you’re out fishing.
- You can also hire house and barbecue boats for a day or more, which could be a great day out or weekend away. But I think you might need to book a long way in advance, so plan ahead for that trip. It’s bound to be a great experience.
- It’s a bit of a drive on dirt to get to the billabong and if your only reason to go is to see a croc, stop in at the Corroboree Tavern at the turn-off on the main road to see the four-metre choppy that’s a resident there. Although it’s not the same as seeing them wild, in their own territory.
Darwin and surrounds has some great watering holes, popular for swimming, fishing, wildlife or having a drink or two.
Just as I write, the rain has stopped, so the telly is off and the postie bike with fishing rod mounted is ready to go.
So while I have the chance, I’m off fishing. Fingers crossed I hook a barra or two. Hopefully, it’s fish for tea.